It seems there’s no need to wait until Monday* to see how the traditionalist Catholic Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) will respond to the Vatican ultimatum and pledge loyalty to Pope Benedict. Its leader Bishop Bernard Fellay spoke about the conditions last Friday (June 20) — before it was known that Benedict had called his bluff — and made clear the SSPX could not accept it. “They just say ‘shut up’,” he said in a sermon at an SSPX seminary in Winona, Minnesota. “We are not going … to shut up.”
In another part of the sermon, he says: “We are, shall we say, something like at a crossroads. In a certain way, Rome is telling us, O.K. we are ready to lift the excommunications, but you cannot continue this way. So we have no choice. We are not going this way. We are continuing what we’ve done. We have fought now for 40 years to keep this faith alive, to keep this tradition, not only for ourselves but for the Church. And we are just going to continue. Happens what happens. Everything is in God’s hands.”
Click here for our news report. Here is an audio file of his sermon (in English). Hat tips to Andrea Tornielli for breaking the story and blogging it along (in Italian) and La Croix’s Isabelle de Gaulmyn for the Vatican clarification (in French). The relevant part of Fellay’s sermon is copied out verbatim on the second page of this post (see below) to give the full context of his comments.
This is not that surprising, given that Fellay has always insisted the schism was not only about the old Latin Mass. SSPX leaders are also firmly opposed to the Second Vatican Council, some of them more staunchly and bluntly than Fellay. The interesting part is that many SSPX followers are probably more interested in the traditional Mass than the other theological points Fellay insists on. So they may go back to Rome now that the Latin Mass will be more widely used in Catholic churches. Tornielli wrote: “Now that they have obtained the Mass in the old rite, many faithful don’t understand why the SSPX doesn’t finally make its peace with Rome.” As Fr. Z puts it on WDTPRS, “Most people want a reverent Mass and sound preaching. They care little for the loftier theological arguments. ”
There’s a lively debate on some Catholic blogs (see among others Angelqueen, Rorate Caeli, The Sensible Bond, The Gregorian Rite, The Pledge of Future Glory) over whether the fact that the five conditions set by the Vatican did not mention Vatican II or the new Mass (novus ordo) means the SSPX might not have to accept them. But a pledge to “avoid the pretense of a Magisterium superior to the Holy Father” covers those two points and lots more. That wording is just a sugar coating for what is a bitter pill for the SSPX.